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2012年4月15日 (日)

「衛星」発射失敗 強固な北朝鮮包囲網の構築を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 15, 2012)
N. Korean missile launch demands a strong response
「衛星」発射失敗 強固な北朝鮮包囲網の構築を(4月14日付・読売社説)

North Korea's missile launch Friday was supposed to be a thunderous salute to celebrate the completion of the transfer of power to Kim Jong Un, the third generation of the Kim dynasty, and also to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the country's founder. But it resulted only in undermining the regime's authority.

The international community had warned the regime not to go through with it, but Pyongyang went ahead with the test launch of a long-range ballistic missile that it claimed was a rocket carrying a satellite.

Shortly after the launch, however, the missile exploded and its fragments fell into the Yellow Sea. The U.S. Defense Department believes it was a modified version of a Taepodong-2 missile, the same type as one fired in April 2009.


Violation of UNSC resolutions

Though the test failed, it was an apparent violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban North Korea from using ballistic missile technology to launch anything. We cannot overlook North Korea's flouting of the UNSC resolutions.

The launch threw a U.S.-North Korea agreement reached in February into the dustbin. Pyongyang had made promises, including a temporary suspension of test-firing ballistic missiles, in return for U.S. food aid to the impoverished country.

The international community must keep urging Pyongyang to stop its nuclear development program, including its enrichment of uranium.

In a timely action the day before the launch, foreign ministers of the Group of Eight countries, including Japan and the United States, adopted a chairman's statement at a meeting demanding that North Korea abandon its ambitions for nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

We think the U.N. Security Council should adopt a new statement by the chair or pass another resolution against Pyongyang. It should not only condemn North Korea but also strengthen economic sanctions to tighten an international noose around the country.

Meanwhile, Japan must seek resumption of negotiations with the country, aiming at comprehensive settlement of nuclear, missile and abduction issues.

It is a concern, however, that Kim Jong Un's administration, which has just started, might rush to conduct the country's third nuclear test in an attempt to make up for the failed missile launch.

North Korea test-fired another long-range ballistic missile three years ago. Like this time, the regime claimed it was just a rocket carrying a satellite. After the U.N. Security Council condemned the country in a chairman's statement, Pyongyang reacted sharply and pressed ahead with the second nuclear test.

To make North Korea refrain from carrying out a nuclear test this time, concerned countries must stand together and display a resolute attitude. If they fail to adopt a united stance, the countries will fall right into Pyongyang's trap.

A focal point of the issue is how China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, will react.

Beijing fears the collapse of the North Korean regime and has been enhancing its assistance to the country for years. This time, it has requested that other countries respond calmly, saying North Korea might act negatively and engage in military provocations if international pressure is strengthened.

However, China's long-standing conciliatory attitude apparently has allowed North Korea to look down on the international community and repeat its reckless deeds.
It has made Pyongyang believe the international community has neither the capability nor the intention to stop Pyongyang even if the regime tries to go ahead with another nuclear test.


Direct menace from Rodong

North Korea invited foreign experts and journalists to the launch site and what it said was the satellite mission control center in a bid to show its "transparency."

Pyongyang also acknowledged the failure of the missile launch, for the first time ever in the annals of its missile development program.

These steps are seemingly designed to help justify the "satellite" launch as "utilization of space technology for peaceful purposes."

However hard the regime may try to put up such a front, there can be no doubt Pyongyang's ultimate goal is enhancement of its ballistic missile technological capability.

Pouring a colossal amount of cash into "satellite" development even at the expense of many of its people who are on the verge of starvation is undoubtedly for the purpose of swiftly developing missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

If it continues to conduct nuclear tests and missile launches, North Korea will sooner or later reach the stage of deploying missiles carrying nuclear warheads--a situation that would be extremely alarming for this country.

Direct threats to Japan for now are medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles with a range of about 1,300 kilometers that have already been deployed on a war footing.

It is vitally important to ensure deterrence against North Korea by further beefing up the alliance between Japan and the United States.

In dealing with the North's latest missile launch, the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military in Japan worked together by dividing roles between their personnel and sharing missile information through a bilateral joint operations coordination center at the U.S. Yokota Air Base in Fussa, western Tokyo. The collaboration is highly significant.


Japan-U.S. collaboration vital

From late March, the SDF had Aegis destroyers deployed in the East China Sea and surface-to-air missile units in Okinawa Prefecture and elsewhere.

The two-layer configuration for missile interception was meant to doubly assure the SDF's ability to respond to a contingency.

The consultations and preparations between the central government and local entities in Okinawa Prefecture ahead of the North Korean missile launch are experiences that should be used to boost the effectiveness of Japan-U.S. military exercises and joint programs for coping with missile attacks.

Regrettably, however, the government's announcement that the missile launch had actually occurred was markedly slow.

The Prime Minister's Office could not confirm the missile launch even after South Korea issued an announcement to that effect. The result was that the Japanese government's official announcement came 40 minutes or more after the launch.

Since Japan is dependent on information from the U.S. satellite early warning system and the government in 2009 issued erroneous information about a North Korean "missile launch," it is understandable that the government may have been cautious in confirming the information.
Even so, the timing of the missile information announcement can only be considered extremely belated.

It is imperative to thoroughly verify the causes of the delay in the relay of information and then find ways to improve the information relaying methods.

The way the government's initial announcement was made, saying the missile launch "has not been confirmed yet," could have been worded better. For example, the government could have said, "There's information about a missile launch, which is now being confirmed."

Deficiencies have also been brought to light in the government's emergency report systems to the nation's local governments, including the J-Alert communications system linking local governments across the country.

To bolster the nation's crisis management system, it is urgently necessary for the government to take such steps as increasing the number of local governments equipped with antidisaster wireless systems.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 14, 2012)
(2012年4月14日01時01分  読売新聞)


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